It is imperative that a person start ‘preparing’ for the British Citizenship application, as soon as he/she has obtained ILR. One of the most important things to keep in mind is the restrictions on travel during this time.
The issue of travel restrictions while in the qualifying period for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or British Citizenship is one of the biggest concerns for clients. To shed some light on the issue, we have compiled some guidelines. We recommend however that clients speak to their BIC consultant for advice in their unique circumstances.
It is imperative that one keeps travel restrictions in mind during the qualifying period for both ILR and Citizenship. In order to simplify the issue, we need to distinguish between persons married to a British national and those reaching ILR or British Citizenship via another route;
Married to a British Citizen
If married to a British Citizen, upon receiving the status of ILR, you will not need to complete a period before being eligible to apply for British Citizenship. You will only have to fulfill the requirement of three years of residence in the UK upon receipt of the ILR status.
You may not be absent from the United Kingdom for more than 270 days in the three-year period preceding the date that the British citizenship application is lodged.
In addition to the above, applicants must also not have been absent for more than 90 days in the 12 month period preceding the date of application.
Obtaining ILR via another Immigration Route (NOT married to a British Citizen)
If you are not married to a British national, you may not be absent from the United Kingdom for more than 450 days in the five-year period preceding the British citizenship application.
In addition to the above, you must also not have been absent for more than 90 days in the 12 month period preceding the date of application.
It is also good to keep in mind that the Home Office currently allow up to 180 days travel per year leading up to Indefinite leave to remain for most applicants holding 5-year visas. However, if applicants make use of the full 180 days, they may exceed the amount of days permitted to obtain British citizenship.
BIC recommends clients not to travel more than 450 days in the five years leading up to ILR as to not affect your eligibility for British citizenship.
Exceeding Travel Restrictions
If you have exceeded the maximum permissible absences qualification period for British citizenship, you may not qualify for citizenship and will need to complete additional time in the UK before becoming eligible.
Although this is not an ideal situation, the UK Home Office have some discretion allowing them to disregard excessive absences from the UK during the qualifying period for citizenship applications. The consultants at BIC have had previous success in applying for citizenship for applicants who had traveled above and beyond the Home Office’s restrictions in the five-, and the one-year periods preceding the date of application.
Please feel free to contact your BIC consultant for more information in your unique case.
www.bic-immigration.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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